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Daily Column
U.S. Papers Tuesday: 2006 Postmortem
The Toll of IEDs; Surge Debate Continues: Attack on Mutlak?
By SETH SMITH 01/02/2007 02:14 AM ET
No single event dominated coverage on Tuesday.

The day's most talked about story will undoubtedly be an NYT account by David E. Sanger, Michael R. Gordon and John F. Burns outlining the failures of the Bush administration to understand the gravity of Iraq's deterioration over the course of 2006. In a scoop likely to reverberate around Washington and Baghdad, the reporters write that General Casey's departure is expected in the near future, owing to growing unease among Bush's inner circle with strategies championed by Casey.


Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Worth have a story on the small number of Iraqis that have been accepted for resettlement in the U.S., including those that have lost family members or been otherwise harmed after working for the occupation. The problem is due in part to a lack of political will in the U.S. government as well as the slow U.N. referral system, though the U.S. is not required to work through the U.N.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg has an article about Henry Kissinger's expected eulogy of Gerald Ford at his Tuesday funeral. Kissinger's return to public view comes at a time when Iraq is increasingly compared to Vietnam, a war intimately associated with the former Secretary of State.

Guest columnist John M. Shalikashvili, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urges a reconsideration of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals. When Shalikashvili was Chair, he supported the policy, but is now convinced that openly gay Americans should be allowed to serve.


Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White consider the sacrifices of some U.S. troops in Iraq, leading to death and, in many cases, permanent disabilities, compared with the relative tranquility felt by many of those in the U.S. that have been personally unaffected by the war. The article is particularly interesting in examining the stories of wounded veterans that have returned to the U.S., and their attempts to reintegrate into their communities. In addition to the story, the Post publishes a stirring statement from the parents of Pfc. Ross McGinnis, issued after learning that their son had sacrificed his life to save the lives of four members of his unit.

Sudarsan Raghavan turns in a study of Shia Iraqis' attitudes towards the U.S. Many Shias are increasingly distrustful of U.S. intentions in Iraq, according to the article, owing to real and/or perceived slights including demands to rein in the militias and reach out to the country's Sunnis.

Nancy Trejos has the story of a Monday U.S. raid on a suspected insurgent target that ended with the death of six men working for Saleh Al Mutlak-fronted Iraqi National Dialogue Front. The Sunni-dominated coalition is against the occupation, and Mutlak, a member of parliament, believes the raid targeted his supporters.

Columnist Eugene Robinson uses the widely distributed cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's execution to examine how history will judge the Iraq war and occupation. Robinson believes that the victor's justice employed in the Hussein trial and execution will eventually be laid bare, just as the video laid bare the sectarian underpinnings of violence in Iraq.


Gregg Zoroya uses the story of Pfc. Ricky Salas Jr., a soldier that lost his life in Iraq, to look at the continuing toll improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are taking on troops stationed in Iraq, and on their families and friends in the U.S.

Rick Jervis has Iraqi political leaders saying that Saddam Hussein's execution won't hurt reconciliation efforts. Jervis also points out supposed progress being made on the reconciliation front.

An unsigned editorial argues that Hussein's execution will have a limited impact on U.S. strategy as it confronts the continued instability in Iraq, along with threats from North Korea, Iran and elsewhere.


Philip Shishkin scored an interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. The PM expresses optimism that some form of accommodation for Iraq's ethno-religious groups can be reached, while also speaking of the great strain associated with his job. The article also serves as a useful primer of Al Maliki's history of anti-Baath regime activity. The online edition has excerpts of the interview.

Yochi J. Dreazen and Greg Jaffe turn in an article looking at the probable length of any increase in troops announced by President Bush.The duo stress the fact that while most analysts agree that an increase needs to be temporary, the definition of temporary is up for debate. Some politicians will only support an increase for three to six months, while others argue that such a short increase would accomplish nothing. Finally, there is the question of where the additional troops will come from, considering the fact that the military is already considered overstretched.

An unsigned editorial praises the execution of Saddam Hussein as helpful for Iraq's future. The editorial argues that Hussein's death will reassure the country's Shias while forcing its Sunnis to come to grips with the fact that Hussein will not return to power.

Guest columnist Mark Bowden argues that those proposing troop withdrawals do not have the interests of Iraqis in mind. He also argues that the U.S. remains an exception, and that sectarian and ethnic hatreds continue to have the ability to tear many countries apart.


Nick Blandford has a meandering account of Saddam Hussein's legacy. No firm conclusions are drawn, with Blandford writing that it is unclear whether Hussein's downfall has led to a strengthening of the region's autocrats or their democratic opponents.

Brad Knickerbocker highlights the steps being taken to reduce the impact of IED attacks on US forces. The article provides useful statistics on IEDs while demonstrating that much remains to be done to counter the threat, such as increasing the number of vehicles less vulnerable to IED attacks.

Dan Murphy has a short article examining Saddam Hussein's continuing influence even in death over many Iraqis.


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